FORMATION NOTES: They promised it all offseason and they delivered on it:
In your face bro. Note that this was an example of something I started calling "30 slide"*, as the linemen are basically head up on the tackles and center with Frank Clark as a sort of standup end/SAM.
*[The idea being this is a 30 front (three linemen head up on tackles and the center like a 3-4) with three linebackers slid as if they are in an under.]
Another example is even clearer:
Note that in both of these shots, the three-tech is in fact to the bottom of the screen instead of between Clark and the nose as you might expect. I had not seen this before, because Michigan doesn't run it and they weren't spread enough last year for anyone to do it against them but since Appalachian State also ran it…
this was in fact their base D probably
…and they are right in the heart of spread on spread warfare I figure it is the latest fad when you need to account for the QB in the run game. I'll get Adam to ask Mattison about it next week—unfortunately, they moved the coordinator pressers up a day so I was not educated on anything before that time came. I'll try to accelerate my UFRing process, something that is now feasible with fast downloads and the lack of TWIS on my plate.
They also of course ran a lot of standard nickel:
Michigan also debuted a weird 3-3-5-ish package with Frank Clark at "MLB":
This happened twice. On both plays Clark was running at the frontside guard on the snap, impacted him, blew him back, forced a cutback, and then no one was there. More on that later.
Michigan also played some bonafide dime snaps:
These had three DL, two linebackers, and six DBs. Generally it was Delonte Holowell getting the extra nickel snaps but that's more in the…
PERSONNEL NOTES: Deep breath. On the line it was Beyer-Henry-Glasgow-Clark to start with copious substitution. Your nominal second string based on playing time was Charlton-Wormley-???-Ojemudia, with the NT ??? a combination of Pipkins, Mone, and Hurst. Pipkins looked by far the best of those guys; I expect that NT rotation to quickly settle down into Glasgow and Pip alternating with scattered snaps elsewhere. Godin got some real PT early at 3-tech.
At linebacker, Ryan, Bolden, and Morgan seemed to get about equivalent PT. Ross got a number of snaps as the game went along as an ILB. IIRC, Jenkins-Stone only saw snaps as a nickel DE late. Gedeon and McCray got in for the last drive.
Michigan played nickel on I think literally every snap they weren't playing dime. That was Peppers spotted by Hollowell and then Hollowell after Peppers got dinged. Taylor and Countess got starters' minutes at outside CB with Lewis coming in frequently; Stribling did not see time until heavy substitution began in the third quarter. Richardson got in there too.
Starting safeties were Wilson and Clark; Thomas got quite a lot of PT starting in the second quarter, with walk-on AJ Pearson seeing the field on ASU's interminable second scoring drive.
And hamburgers: I thought I was done calling people CGordon and TGordon and just realized we have two Clarks. I tried to clarify who was who below; I imagine you can figure it out if I missed a couple.
[After the JUMP: a big table! and some other stuff.]
Notre Dame handled last year's Conference USA champs, Rice, with relative ease last Saturday, averaging nine yards per play in a 48-17 win. Everett Golson returned from last season's suspension with a huge performance. What does it mean for this weekend's game? Read on to learn about the ND offense.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread-to-pass. This is Brian Kelly's offense, after all. Thanks to Seth, this section now also covers personnel in a handy diagram. Returning starters are highlighted in their team color, the player's bubble is smaller if he hasn't been on the team for three years, and a player's name is in bold if the returning starter at that position is available—in this case, RB Cam McDaniel is in bold because Amir Carlisle, who split starts with McDaniel and a couple other backs in 2013, has moved to the slot (click to embiggen):
As you can see, the Irish have an experienced line, but their skill position players are relatively green, especially when considering Golson wasn't on the team last year.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? The Irish ran mostly inside and outside zone, with a little bit of power tossed in to keep the defense off balance. They were at their best running behind the excellent RG/C combo of Christian Lombard and Nick Martin.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Notre Dame plays at a relatively slow pace, especially for a spread; they had an adjusted pace last year of 36.6% compared to the national average, per Bill Connelly. That number is slightly deceiving, as ND usually gets to the line with plenty of time on the play clock, then makes pre-snap adjustments from their formation; they can pick up the pace when it's necessary.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): I'll give Everett Golson a solid eight on this scale. He did a stellar job of feeling and avoiding pressure in the pocket, he knew when to bail out and when to just step up, and he scored three touchdowns in the red zone, two on plays that weren't designed to be QB runs. Here's the designed run, a draw they ran a few times successfully:
Golson finished with 58 yards on 11 carries with sacks removed, and a few of those carries were marginal gains when pressure flushed him out of the pocket. Michigan is going to have to be very disciplined when they rush the passer or Golson will make some big plays on his own.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Ryan under the microscope [Eric Upchurch]
Hello. As per usual, a game against a tomato can causes me to dig up something negative because I figure that the bad things that happen against weak teams are more likely to recur than the good ones. I'm not being negative, I'm being useful!
After this opening paragraph it may not surprise you that I didn't think Ryan had a particularly good game as Michigan's MLB. There were a couple of opportunities to contrast him with Desmond Morgan on similar plays that didn't come out well for Ryan. To the stillmobile!
Taking on blockers
App State had one drive of any consequence before Michigan started throwing third stringers on the field. That was a 75-yard march on which they ran an old Rodriguez staple, the "belly," repeatedly for good yardage.
Belly is designed to attack the soft underbelly of the backside of a defense facing inside zone. The end gets optioned off and then the goal of the defense is to use the backside DT's natural desire to shoot the gap to the playside against him. This usually sees the backside tackle get a free release on a linebacker on a quick-hitting play. (A quick google search indicates that this is Rodriguez-exclusive terminology, so your local guru's verbiage will vary.)
This was tough for Michigan to defend as aligned because the backside DT saw zone action and went GRRAAAH at it, driving himself way out of the play because he's Willie Henry and he is 1) strong and 2) not yet super disciplined. This put linebackers in bad spots, facing free OL while trying to shut down a ton of space.
Here's Morgan in that situation:
It feels like Michigan is a little misaligned here, with the linebacker shaded to one side against a formation that has no TE.
On the snap Beyer is let go and must respect the keep, so he flows upfield. Henry will get his own momentum used against him and get way out of the play, which I have designated by putting a frown at the end of his line. Morgan has an OT coming at him and a problem.
Beyer plays the mesh point well, inducing a give but forming up near the LOS so he can respond to a handoff. Henry is about to leave.
Here is the the key thing for Morgan on this play: he takes the contact. He in fact initiates the contact despite not having much forward momentum (which it is hard to get on a quick hitting play like belly). He impacts the OL and rocks him back:
Note that the guy next to him is Henry, who is trying to fight back to the play by giving ground. Also note that if Henry was anywhere near where the line would like him to be, Beyer is tackling as people wall up.
The back actually bounces off the OL…
And then a bunch of guys tackle him after six yards.
This is not a good result and I think Morgan's original alignment had something to do with that. He ends up taking the block to the inside instead of square and that gives the back room to the outside when otherwise this could have been a third down coming up. But: tough job in a lot of space. I gave him a half point for slowing down what could otherwise have been bad.
[After the JUMP: Jake Ryan tries his hand.]
Funchess, Gardner, Taylor
This one’s for Devin and Devin. That first half you came out and really made a statement. What was going through your mind? Especially, Devin, with that back of the endzone catch. What was one your minds in that first half?
Funchess: “The preparation and practice. We prepared from the later parts of camp and then the week before the game so it was just preparation and practice. We were just doing it just like we practiced. Pitch and catch, and that’s what you saw on Saturday.
Gardner: “We were just in really good sync and you could see the work we put in through the-
/Devin Funchess is told his mic isn’t on.
Funchess: “You mean I’ve got to repeat what I said? I told you it wasn’t on. I tried to check it.”
/laughter. The picture above is taken.
Gardner: “As I was saying, I feel like our preparation throughout camp, like you said. I feel like we were in really good sync and that’s pretty much it. Just focus on what we had to do one each play. Not look forward or look back.”
Raymon, Brady told us you played probably the best football game that you played. That’s pretty high praise because you know how coaches are, they don’t every want to come out and say that. Talk about your performance in that game and also look forward to Notre Dame and what your greatest concern is.
Taylor: “I’ve been working a lot on technique through fall camp. Just keep coming to work and keep working hard technique-wise. He said I did great technique[-wise]. They didn’t throw too much but my technique was great. For Notre Dame I just want to come out and compete and just keep working and just get the job done.
What about Everett Golson? What kind of problems does he create because he’s one of those quarterbacks like Devin who can beat you with the run?
RT: “He’s fast. He can get out of the pocket and sling the ball up. He can make plays and beat you deep if you get off your man so he’s an explosive player.”
After watching film, Ray, what was the best part of the defensive performance on Saturday?
RT: “The defensive backs pressing a lot. They said we were a defense that played off a lot so we came up to press. The technique was great on Saturday, but that was last week. We’re looking forward to Notre Dame week.”
This is for any of the players. When you look at the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry what stands out about it for you and what does the rivalry going on hiatus take away from college football, or does it take anything away from college football?
DG: “I feel like it’s a great rivalry. You don’t really have to talk abut what kind of rivalry it is, everybody knows. The type of impact it has on college football and they type of implications it has around the country in the past so, yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
[After THE JUMP: Devin Gardner says the thing you probably saw on Twitter but should still read in context]
Mike Weber [Photo: Dave Nasternak/MGoBlog]
Yes, FBO is back after being mostly absent last year; if you're unfamiliar, this is the series in which I go to high school games involving Michigan commits/targets, get some video, and provide my best attempt at a scouting report. Helping me this year is MGoRightHandMan Dave Nasternak, who took all the photos and video for us at Friday's Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State.
The two featured games this week are Southfield vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Cass Tech vs. Oak Park; despite our two spare batteries, the camera started running out of juice during the late game, so I've only included highlights from Cass Tech's offense for that one. Show? On with it.
Southfield vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's
Overview: OLSM pulled out a 21-19 victory thanks to a big-time performance from soph. QB Kanye Harris (21-36, 303 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) and long touchdowns by senior MSU commit Tyson Smith (60-yard receiving TD) and sophomore WR Kahlee "KJ" Hamler (47-yard punt return TD). Despite being at a major size disadvantage up front, OLSM dominated Southfield in the trenches, leaving no room to run for four-star 2016 RB Matt Falcon (5 carries, 5 yards), who missed a decent portion of the game with an apparent ankle injury.
[Hit THE JUMP for video highlights and scouting reports on Mike Weber, Josh Ross, Lavert Hill, Matt Falcon, and several others.]
Not like this [Bryan Fuller]
This is still in the not-gospel category but it looks like Desmond Morgan is going to be on the shelf a while.
This morning, the internet started rumoring about a linebacker out injured. This was vaguely confirmed (no name, no timetable) by Sam Webb. Now there are reports that Desmond Morgan has been spotted on campus with a cast on one arm. This confirms a report from our message board that I think is legit; I've followed up with the poster to get more detail.
Someone is hurt, and two different reports that it's Morgan, one eyewitness. I expect that he will be out for a bit; six weeks is the internet timetable, but I wouldn't put a ton of stock in that.
In Morgan's absence expect to see more James Ross. ND's offensive scheme will put Michigan in the nickel for most snaps, all but eliminating the WLB spot that Ross and RJS are occupying at the moment. Ross got some time at ILB against App State when Mattison was displeased with the starters. Michigan is going to need an option there if either starter doesn't live up to offseason hype.